Virginia Underage Possession NOT Dismissed Due to Age

You read that right, but let me explain.

Basically, Virginia law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing or possessing alcohol (with a few exceptions). Thus, the Commonwealth has to prove that you were in fact under 21 at the time of the alleged offense.

Here’s the rub: It doesn’t matter how old you are when you come to court. All that matters is how old you were at the time of the offense.

As an attorney, I tend to take things like this for granted. However, I saw a person in Spotsylvania General District Court a couple weeks ago who was quite distraught to learn this.

A defendant represented himself for an underage possession charge. He argued to the judge that he was currently 21-years-old. The judge convicted him. The defendant was incredibly surprised and pretty irate.

Why did that happen?

It’s simple. Criminal law is concerned with the facts on the day of the offense. Did you do what you’re accused of? To prove underage possession, the Commonwealth has to prove that you were underage (under 21) and that you were in possession.

It’s not a fix-it ticket like expired inspection or defective equipment. It’s a misdemeanor offense.

Think about it this way: you’re no longer in possession of alcohol when you come to court, but that’s irrelevant. Why would it matter how old you are on your court date?

Photo by HeadCRasher

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then, I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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